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Adults versus kids and babies -Acclimatisation and blood oxygen levels 


I was particularly interested today as we are staying in Scared Valley Peru at 4200 meters. The kids are full of energy and raring to go yet myself and Pedro struggling with low energy and headaches. We decided to test our blood oxygen levels and interestingly after trekking up to 4800m . 

Pedro had 88% , I was 91% and the kids both at 96%. Bonnie our 17 month old had a blood oxygen level of 98%!

Evidence demonstrates Men suffer more in altitude than Women but I didn’t realise how much better the kids acclimatised! 


High altitude can significantly affect energy levels while trekking, particularly in regions like Peru where many popular trekking destinations, such as Cusco and Machu Picchu, are located at high elevations. Here are some key points about how high altitude impacts energy levels and why children might have an advantage over adults:





Effects of High Altitude on Energy Levels


1. Reduced Oxygen Availability:

At higher altitudes, the air pressure is lower, meaning there is less oxygen available. This can lead to symptoms of altitude sickness, including fatigue, headaches, dizziness, and nausea, all of which can drain energy. Both myself and Pedro felt these symptoms however kids didn’t complain about any of these. 


2. Increased Physical Effort:

The body has to work harder to perform the same physical activities due to the decreased oxygen levels, leading to quicker fatigue and lower energy reserves. Obviously we had our normal running races and as adults we took much longer to recover than the kids. 


3. Acclimatization:

As the body adapts to higher altitudes, it produces more red blood cells to carry oxygen more efficiently. However, this acclimatization process can take days to weeks, during which energy levels might remain low.





Why Children Might Have Better Oxygen Efficiency


1. Faster Acclimatization: Children often adapt to changes in their environment more quickly than adults. Their bodies might adjust more rapidly to the lower oxygen levels, improving their oxygen efficiency sooner.


2. Higher Breathing Rates: Children generally have higher respiratory rates than adults, which can help them take in more oxygen per minute. This might provide a slight advantage in oxygen absorption at high altitudes.


3. Smaller Body Size: With a smaller body mass, children require less oxygen overall compared to adults. This can make the relative oxygen deficit less severe for them, helping maintain better energy levels. This explains why Bonnie had the highest oxygen levels. 


Tomorrow we climb up Machu Picchu and I was concerned for the kids but they will be dragging us up!

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